A new way to generate a broad immune system response against different variants of HIV
9 March 2015
It is estimated that worldwide thirty million people are infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. Until now, there is no effective vaccine against HIV. This is a due to the high variability of the virus and to the virus attacking the immune system, thereby hampering efficient immune responses. More research is still needed. Central to the research is the question: how to provoke a massive immune response that can eliminate different variants of the virus? BPRC researchers have tested a possible strategy.
The immune system can eliminate unwanted intruders in many ways. Scientific evidence indicates that protection against HIV is only possible through a concerted action of the different components of the immune system. In addition, the immune response needs to attack virus elements that are present in all HIV variants. It often occurs that vaccination activates a specific branch of the immune system, with the other part of the immune system remaining more or less inactive. A collaboration of several research groups from around the world has now developed a strategy to activate multiple parts of the immune system that should generate a broad immune response. At the BPRC this strategy was tested in monkeys, because monkeys have an immune system that is closely related to that of man.